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Setting Goals That Stick: Finding Your Why

This lesson is a part of an audio course Setting Goals That Stick! by Dr. Heidi Cooke PT, DPT, ATC

One of the most pivotal changes from the old model, to this new model, is getting down to the nitty-gritty of figuring out your “why,” as well as creating your mantra statement to help keep you focused on your goal on those days when you're just feeling a little “meh.”

It's easy to turn things down and turn things away and choose not to do the activities that we know are going to push us forward when we do not have a powerful reason driving us as to why we are choosing those activities.

When the reason behind something isn't powerful enough, it is so easy for us to bail, to bail on ourselves, and create excuses that continue to perpetuate this lifestyle that we're living in, that we may be unhappy with.

When our excuses are more powerful than our “why”, our excuses are going to win every single time.

Say it louder for the people in the back!!

When our excuses are more powerful than our “why” or our reason for doing something, our excuses are going to win every single time!!

Let's look at the goal of losing weight as an example. So maybe you have a goal that you would like to lose 20 pounds by January 1st. And the reason you are telling yourself you want to lose 20 pounds by this date is that you want to look a certain way, (that issue is an entirely different ebook I need to write) or I want to lose 20 pounds by this date because I want my jeans to fit better.

We could wake up one day and just decide, eh, it doesn't really matter what I look like when I go to this New Year party…I’ll push off this goal and make it a New year's resolution and try again next year. I don’t really feel like exercising today…blah, blah, blah.

Instead of focusing on these surface level reasons for motivating us to make change, we need to get really real with ourselves, dive in, and make it crystal clear why we are choosing the activities we're participating in to reach our goal.

This reason has to be strong enough. It needs to be the reason you would pick yourself up and dust yourself off and step back up to the plate when you face some adversity. It needs to be the reason why you set your alarm at 5:00 AM to go for a run in the morning before all the kids wake up, when it would be a hell of a lot easier to hit snooze, pull those cozy covers up and go back to sleep.

Our “why” helps us cut out all the noise, because when we realize why we want to achieve something, it starts to become really clear what activities are going to help us move towards our goal and what activities are going to hold us back.

We begin to realize that maybe certain things that we're hearing or following or adhering to aren't actually aligning with our “why”. For example, maybe you had the goal to lose weight. You've been taking a slimming product, some sort of fat burner or something of that nature because you were wanting to lose weight. But you identified that your reason for wanting to lose weight is because you want to live a long and happy life! You might begin to realize that sure, taking some sort of metabolic booster might help us lose weight, but it really doesn't align with your “why” for wanting to lose weight. It might actually be moving you further away from your overarching goal!

How to identify your why:

Step 1: Identify your goal, the goal that you have, that you're working towards, the goal that has been weighing on your heart that you've been working to achieve.

Step 2: The Toddler why exercise. This exercise is like the three year old that asks…

  • “Mom, why do dogs pant?”…“Well, honey, it's because they can't sweat.” So it's how they cool themselves down.
  • Toddler: “Well, why?”
  • Mom: “Because that’s how dogs are made.”
  • Toddler: “Why?”…and so forth.

Now, You get to utilize your own goal that was identified at the beginning of this exercise. And run it through that same exercise.

For example: Let's say I have a goal to run a marathon.

  • Why? Because I want to challenge my body cardiovascularly, and I want to achieve something I have never achieved before.
  • Why? Why do I want to challenge myself cardiovascularly? Why do I want to achieve something I've never achieved before? Maybe my reason is because I want to really challenge my body and build a level of mental toughness that I have never built before.
  • And then ask yourself again, why? I want to prove to myself that I can do really hard things.
  • Ask yourself why again...I want to prove to myself that I am strong and that I am not going to give up on myself.
  • Lightbulb moment! We’ve reached it. Maybe I’ve given up on my goals in the past and I’m having a hard time believing that I can rise to the challenge and that is my final “why.”

So now when your alarm goes off for that 5:30 run in the morning, instead of pulling the covers up and giving up, now you have to make the very deliberate decision to give up on yourself. Give up the mission of showing yourself that you are mentally tough and that you can do hard things and that you will not give up on yourself.

Let me tell ya...the decision to not go for the run when you are actively deciding to give up on yourself, instead of proving to yourself that you're mentally tough. That is a much harder decision than just giving up on a random 5:00 AM run.

Now it’s your turn...time to get super honest with yourself and with your answers. It’s time to identify WHY you can’t give up on your goal.

Step 3: I'm challenging you guys to develop your one sentence mantra that correlates to your “why” that you can tell yourself when you really aren't feeling motivated. For example from the example above my mantra might read:

“I do not give up on myself, I can do hard things, and this activity will help me move closer towards crossing the finish line of my marathon!”

Step 4: Share your mantra with someone close to you who can hold you accountable! Sometimes our goals don’t feel real so we need to speak them into existence! It’s time to get vulnerable and share!